International Women’s Day 2021: Fiona Reid

Fiona Reid – Communications senior responsible offer, Somerset COVID-19 vaccination programme 

Usual role:

Director of communications for Somerset NHS Foundation Trust.

What brought you to Somerset, and what makes you proud to work here:

I came to work in Somerset a little bit by chance. I was working in Bristol in 2018 and enjoyed my job and wasn’t looking for a new one. It was a very horrible year though with two relatively young people close to me having terminal illnesses and I was flying round the world to see them and generally juggling a lot of stuff. Someone mentioned to me that they’d seen a director of communications job advertised in Somerset and I had a look, thought the merger would be really interesting to work on, so I put in a speculative application. I remember that I couldn’t make the interview date because I was in between trips back to Cape Town to see my brother. When I got an alternative interview date I remember thinking that if it was all too much I’d have to ring them up and grovel and say I couldn’t make the interview and what a pity that would be. Upshot of it all was that I got there, hopefully made a lot of sense, really liked the people I met and what I saw and was very pleased to get the job.

I am very proud to work in Somerset because in my experience it has a uniquely collaborative way of working. I think it is a very beautiful county nestled between Bristol where I live and the coast further south where I’ve been on many a good holiday. In my view we just need to shout a lot louder about what a wonderful county it is and what a satisfying place it is to work.

What advice would you give to colleagues working in similar roles, or aspiring to be:

Take a chance and a calculated risk! Working in communications in the NHS is an absolute privilege – we get to work with people and services who care for people at some of the most difficult times in their lives and that is a privilege that we can never forget.

What’s been your most defining moment on the vaccination programme:

There have been two for me. The excitement of hearing that we had a vaccine registered for use in the UK and we were beginning to design and roll out a vaccination programme at speed. In addition to that it was very heart-warming to hear and see how grateful and excited people were to receive the first vaccinations in our county and to hear their stories. I hope I always remember the gentleman who talked about also receiving his cowpox vaccine as a little boy.